4/7: Chords

Bob Marley & The Wailers - “Get Up, Stand Up”

One of the simplest ways to work with chords is to use only one, sustained or repeated for an entire piece of music.

What plays the chords?

You can hear a number of instruments playing chords in this song, including electric guitars and both acoustic and electric pianos.

But these instruments are used in very different ways. Some of the guitars and keyboards play chords in regular, repeating rhythms, while others play more improvisatory patterns that are less predictable.

How do the chords work?

Underlying the entire song is a single repeated C minor chord, as played on the acoustic piano:

Notice that the notes are all halfway between the beats. This pattern of offbeats is known in reggae as the skank rhythm.

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